Rebel Market’s Cherish Marasigan wrote a piece called 5 Things Wrong with Goth Subculture and I’m going to take a red pen to this casual call out.
Dear Cherish Marasigan,
1 . Exclusionism You find issue with the distinction of what is and isn’t goth, as if the word standards doesn’t exist. Specifically with goth fashion, which if you don’t know, has a rich intense history. “A simple black dress can be goth paired with the right edgy jewelry- if the person wearing it believes it is.” Okay, edgy is so subjective that I can’t allow it to be made in an agrument against goths being critical of someone’s demands to be regaled as Goth Fashion Royalty (TM). Also, “if the person believes it is” is so ripe for controversy as it doesn’t lend anything of substance to the defense of simple aesthetic choices, that I’m almost speechless by its weakness. But you used the word “exclusionism” so what I’m guessing you really have issue with is superficial fashion choices not being given the same amount of credit as actually identifying with larger parts of the scene.
Credit being credibility by way of authenticity, of course. A lot of actual goths have been ridiculed, ostracized, and many still have to conform to more conventional fashion ensembles for their livelihoods. So, you’ll have to forgive them, if they are disheartened by jersey knit material, simple cuts and smokey eye shadow being herald as the trend of the century when not a single goddamn goth has ever gotten ready for something in under an hour or more importantly, every single one of them has been harassed in some way for their expression.
Fashion is great and wonderful, but there is so much more to it for goth than wearing a costume to “express our deep dark sadness”. It’s communicative on a level that we borrow from post punk, it demands innovation with its steadfast DIY on some level and how we express our uniqueness, and it’s something goths labor for. So, yeah, we take issue with the watered down version being held up as the most genuine thing. We take issue with fashionistas wanting to be celebrated as goth queens when they don’t participate in any other way in the community.
2. No Lifestyle- While I don’t disagree with what you said, it’s phrased in a confusing way. Your other comments directly address the goth community as we generally see it now. Here, you turn to address the fashionistas a moment ago you were defending…. who’s side are you on? Where is your editor?
Because if you think goth does not have a lifestyle right now, right here, right this second….You might be doing it wrong….
3. Bad Public Image- “I don’t need to tell Goths that the public alternates between laughing at you and accusing you of Satanism or violence.”
The public laughing at you- More often than not, when alternative communities get an opportunity to be featured on a larger platform it is usually to be trotted out as an example of something juvenile, inadequate and unattractive. It’s usually mocking, seeing as a lot of those examples can be pulled from reality tv shows that feature a transformation out of their alternative lifestyle in some way. You know what helps with that? Featuring goths on your own platform as actual people and not brow beating them down back into the stereotypes that we’ve all collectively outgrown one way or another. Your comments here serve as support for that idea far more than it does to cancel it out.
And currently, there is far more evidence in mainstream media to suggest that the public is trying to borrow from goth in a lot of ways, Pale Waves and their aesthetic for example.
Satanism or violence- Why would you conflate Satanism and violence? I just want to know. Where have goths been violent? Why is being a Satanist something to be accused of? I genuinely want to know because relying on the misconstrued connotation of Satanism of your supposed target audience is weak writing and ignorant.
I ask again, where is your editor?
4. Unhappiness- “If you think about it, no other group on earth intentionally projects unhappiness like Goths…Goths can do a tremendous amount to change this oversimplified image of Goths by, for example, being kind and accessible to others and creating funny Goth memes or upbeat videos.”
I actually had to take a deep breath here because this is telling. There are actually loads of content that do exactly that, but you’re not going to see them cruising through the suggested videos. Anyone who creates in the social media part of goth knows that you still have to hunt for those things because they don’t get as much engagement. You should know that, and I think you do in some way because you chose to write a more anger inducing post that you knew would get shared and not one that would celebrate the things you love about goth.
Furthermore, there are two sides to the idea of “projecting unhapiness”. One, is that goths, in their artistic endeavors, try to not shy away from the darker sides of life. Those darker sides being mourning, death, and grotesque imagery and metaphors. It is through their art they come terms with the most futile parts of being human and make their way full circle to a full appreciation of life. Second is the therapeutic effect of not feeling a demand to hide things like depression, suicidal ideation, things that “disfigure” us to the non goth world, and things that hurt us internally. Goth provides a space for healing and growth in ways that are unrivaled. So I would ask you to shift your perspective of goth from superficial consumerism where you benefit to one of understanding for the much larger picture of what we do around here.
5. “Why haven’t we seen anything new in goth”
I want my time back for reading through everything else to end on this grotesquely, lack luster list of suggestions for directions for goth fashion to take. Primarily, goth has once again been featured in multiple runway fashion shows….I don’t know if I should really be doing your work for you, but Charles Jeffrey, Yohji Yamamoto, and Commes des Garcons all pulled from the collective bounty of goth resources for inspiration in their lines for this year….
I see this a lot whenever there is an out cry for “newness” in Goth. I assure you there are loads of new things being thrown into the culture but their success largely depends on people like you and me writing about it and sharing it as far as we can. And the goth way is generally if you don’t see something you like fucking make it with your own two hands. I take issue with your unwillingness to truly search for those things as if they should be conveniently laying around in a top 10 list somewhere as demonstrations of innovation are often criticized long before they are glorified.
The 5 Actual Things Wrong with Goth Subculture-
- “I shouldn’t have to work for it”- I think social media and its slot machine user interface have led us into a comfortable passive interaction with goth culture. I do see it changing though as more people are trying to present themselves as curators and authorities of sorts to the goth community despite its awkward format on social media. Do I think it’s perfect? No. But I do think it’s a step in the right direction as people remember we, as members of the goth community, are responsible for championing our interpretations of goth and sharing that depth we mention so often with some actual awareness.
- Bigotry- let’s not lie, in the last several years some unsavory bullshit snuck into the scene and tried to establish a foothold here. If there is any idea that needs to be challenged by goths it is that we remotely tolerate that nonsense. While I’ve seen pushback against those who would espouse such negative sentiments, the association between goth and white only, goth and high level femininity, and the approach of “We don’t support it but we’re not going to challenge it.” when faced with opportunity to say something are still quite prevalent.
- The Loss of the Artist- as goth has become more accessible to mainstream outlets for whatever reason, there has also been a sharp decline in the respect for the artists who contribute to the scene. Whether it be in craftsmanship “Oh I’ll just find it on eBay”, music and attendance of live shows, or down to the events and what contributions are made to make those events awesome, such as djs, visuals and decorations. Do not take these things for granted because they won’t always be there and losing a club night or a space is heartbreaking for goths. (RIP Monte Cristo. I’m still friends with all the people you introduced me too. ToT)
- Entitlement- With the influx of really fresh blood or superficial baby bats, they brought with them this ridiculous demand for seats at the table with no effort. They don’t show up to events, or if they do they harass the djs “play something I can dance too”, they shop exclusively at brands known for stealing from small artists (which is the greatest fucking sin of all time btw), and they look down their nose or side eye every actual goth in the building. I’m not saying they should worship slavishly at the altar of goth gods, but I am saying checking the attitude at the door would make their interactions here a lot more enjoyable.
- Not creating content out of fear of not being liked- this one breaks my heart the hardest. Bring your weird storytelling, your curious, adventurous spirit and your creativity to the forefront. You are going to be awkward and clumsy at first, WE ALL FUCKING WERE, but you are going to learn and grow, and refine your strange brand of goth. If people don’t like that you don’t focus on fashion and clothing hauls, I say fuck ’em, because I’m sick of clothing haul videos. Tell me what you love about goth, tell me the weird way you took to get here, your first club, your favorite horror story, your most prized memento mori. TELL ME. I promise you, you do not have to do like it the fashionistas to be someone here.
Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels